|Jason and I drove
to the mountain on the 14th and had a hard nights sleep on the concrete
parking lot of the ski lodge. Somehow I think an irregular rock bed
would have been more comfortable. This only helped in getting us up
before the sun.
|After we packed up
and locked the leftover gear in the cab of the truck, we headed off toward
Lake Ann. It was a gorgeous day and we were jazzed and armed with a
ten year old route description and a lot of hope, we were ready to attack.
After passing the lake, the real climbing began. The trail began to
disappear as we traversed a nasty scree slope following a trail of carnes to
the bottom of the Fisher Chimney system.
|A little hard to
see, but the Fisher Chimney system is one of the most beautiful and
rewarding routes I've ever done. Although rather steep, there are only
a few places where you feel exposed to fall. The rocks are tight for
the most part and projectile hazard is low. Keeping on course is a
challenge though since there are actually very few signs of travel and the
route seems to diverge at every opportunity. We found that 'up', is
generally the direction that will keep you on route. A very
|The view from the
top of the chimneys is breathtaking... or maybe it was the climb I'm not
sure. But you get a view of Baker from an angle that most people never
see. The crater is between Colfax Peak on the left and the summit
dome. The Cock's Comb is rock ridge along the rightward horizon.
That's the route that Eric and I took a couple of years ago (see
|From the top of the
chimney's it was a short climb to the base of Whinney's slide. From
what we read, this is the crux of the climb. Being so late in the
season, the glacier was down to solid ice. This made crevasse finding
a no-brainier, but a slip here and there would be no self arrest.
We parked there for a bit of lunch and
watched a couple of other climbers as they made their way down the steepest
section. They were using ice screws and were setting up anchors to
belay each other as they leap frogged their way down. At one point the
top guy slipped and slid out of control right past his partner. Lucky
for him he wasn't too far above and the anchor held and the belay worked.
But I was shocked at how much speed he picked up in such a short time.
Note to self: Bring ice screws.
We decided to go to the left of where the
other climbers were as it looked a little less steep there. Jason
wasn't too happy about the idea but strapped on his crampons nonetheless.
We played out extra rope between us and I started up. finding a route
between the open crevasses was interesting. Although nobody wanted to
fall into a crevasse, the fact was that if we lost our balance, a short fall
into a crevasse was a lot better than a long tumbling slide to the bottom of
the glacier. I kept this in mind as I weaved a path through the
I made my way up the steepest section, toeing
with my front points into solid ice. First time for everything.
Just as the slope in front of me started showing signs of easing, the ice
under Jason's feet was just starting to get nasty. I was nearly there,
when Jason announced that he had gone as far as he was going to. I
turned and looked to see him standing on a finger of ice between two
crevasses that was no wider than his head (no harder either). I didn't
argue. We reversed course and headed back down. The only thing
more challenging than climbing up that slope, was down climbing it.
After I got through the tricky stuff, I whipped out the camera and snapped
|I'm not sure if
Jason was mad at me for bringing him, or mad at himself for turning us
around. I was actually okay with it. It was a beautiful day and
what we'd seen of the mountain to this point was spectacular.
|Well... given that
we'd planned on climbing all day, we suddenly found ourselves with a lot of
time to spend and no where to go. So we decided to set up the rope and
practice some rappelling techniques. There was a spectacular cliff
that determined the southern edge of Whinney's, if we could only get up
there! We left our packs at the bottom and worked our way back around
to the Chimney side of the rock structure. The climb up was exciting
and once on top, we could see an easy traverse that could lead us all the
way to the top of Whinney's slide! There was only one short section
that didn't have any foot holds, but the knife edge along the top was more
than enough for a solid layback move that did the trick.
From here, the route to Hell's Highway lay out
before us (behind me in the photo). Then it was my turn to be
disappointed. Had we not left our packs below, we could have continued
the climb having bypassed Whinney's Slide. But now, there wouldn't be
time to climb back down, get our packs and climb back up. At least
that was our excuse.
|But still. It
was most beautiful.
After goofing off for a while,
we made our way back to the cliff, rappelled down to our packs and hiked